Defense Appropriations Bill Summary FY2013
On July 19, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Appropriations bill allocating funding for the Pentagon’s annual base budget ($518 billion) and war spending ($88.5 billion) with a vote of 326-90. Please see a summary of some highlighted amendments below.
Cutting the Overall Pentagon Budget /Cutting Pentagon Waste
The Good News – One Bipartisan Step Towards Budget Restraint
Thank you to those who made calls urging cuts to excessive Pentagon spending. We do have some positive news to report. The Mulvaney (R-SC) and Frank (D-MA) bipartisan amendment to freeze Pentagon spending at Fiscal Year 2012 levels was adopted 247-167 with 89 Republicans voting for it. This is the first time in more than a decade that Congress has been willing to apply any restraint to the Pentagon budget. While it is fair to note that this freeze amendment is a very modest restraint (in fact the Pentagon is still getting more money than the Administration requested), it is a hopeful first step. As Congress moves towards ever more intense end of the year budget battles, this vote should indicate that a strong majority in Congress is unwilling to exempt the Pentagon from fiscal discipline. See House debate on defense bill spending finds one bit of bipartisan light in the Washington Post.
Congressional Women Stars Shine, But Congress Doesn’t Follow the Light
We applaud the women in Congress who offered a number of amendments to make deeper cuts to overall Pentagon spending, or cut wasteful unnecessary programs, or even just require an audit of the Pentagon. Unfortunately, all of these amendments failed and showed a steep partisan divide:
Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) amendment, co-sponsored by Chris Van Hollen (D-MD and Ranking Member on the Budget Committee) and Adam Smith (D-WA and Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee), to reduce the overall spending in the bill by $7.6 billion, would have brought spending in line with budget caps that Congress agreed to last year. It was rejected 171-243, July 19, 2012. Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) amendment to reduce the overall spending in the bill by $19.2 billion was rejected 87-326, July 19, 2012.
Lynn Woolsey’s (D-CA) three amendments to cut Pentagon spending by specific amounts were all rejected: 114 - 302 (Roll Call # 481), 106 - 311 (Roll Call # 483), and 91 - 328 (Roll Call # 484), July 18, 2012. (Rep. Lynn Woolsey is retiring this year and noted that this was her last opportunity to offer amendments to cut excessive military spending and shift budget priorities.)
Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky’s (D-IL) amendment to withhold a portion of Department of Defense spending until the Pentagon is able to pass an audit fell by a point of order.
Betty McCollum’s (D-MN) amendment to cut funds for military bands, a reduction of $188 million, was rejected 166-250, July 18, 2012.
(And some good amendments to cut offered by men in Congress – also failed …)
Jack Kingston’s (R-GA) amendment, supported by Betty McCollum (D-MN) to cut funds for the military to advertise at NASCAR races was rejected 202-216, July 18, 2012.
Mike Quigley’s (D-IL) amendment to reduce funding for one DDG-151 Destroyer by $998 million was rejected 60-359, July 18, 2012.
Mike Coffman’s (R-CO) amendment to ensure that the President's proposal to remove two Army brigades from Europe and replace them on a rotational basis is upheld, which would limit funding for the continued permanent deployment of the 170th and 172nd infantry brigades in Europe, was rejected 123-292, July 19, 2012.
Cold War Time Warp
When it comes to nuclear weapons and related missile defense spending, it seems that Congress is firmly stuck in a time warp. Common sense amendments to cut back on Cold War era weapons system expenses failed. On top of that, retro amendments to restrict arms control efforts and block nuclear weapons reductions were adopted.
Ed Markey’s (D-MA) amendment to reduce funding for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) missile defense system by $75 million, bringing the funding level back to the President’s request, was rejected 150-268, July 18, 2012.
Ed Markey’s (D-MA) amendment to limit the fleet of land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) to 300 (currently there are 450 Minuteman III ICBMs) was rejected 136-283, July 18, 2012.
Michael Turner’s (R-OH) amendment to prohibit funds from being used to reduce U.S. nuclear forces to implement the Nuclear Posture Review Implementation Study, modify the Secretary of Defense Guidance for Employment of Force, or the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, was adopted 235-178, July 19, 2012.
Rick Berg’s (R-ND) amendment to prohibit use of funds to reduce the number of the nuclear weapons delivery vehicles of the United States including (1) Heavy bomber aircraft, (2) Air-launched cruise missiles, (3) Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, (4) Submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and (5) Intercontinental ballistic missiles, was adopted 232-183, July 19, 2012.
Mo Brooks’ (R-AL) amendment to prohibit funds from being used to share classified information about missile defense systems with Russia was agreed to by voice vote, July 19, 2012.
While amendments to accelerate ending the war and bring home troops failed, other amendments to cut Afghanistan and Pakistan aid were successful. This confused approach indicates a bumpy road ahead for Afghanistan. Pushing a failed military solution will not work, and the funding and support for a transition doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. We note that Congress should put its focus on supporting a transition towards developing a sustainable peace and Afghan women should play a leading role.
Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) amendment to cut $21 billion from war funding to end the U.S. involvement in the Afghanistan war safely and responsibly, which would limit funding to bringing the troops home, was rejected 107-312, July 18, 2012.
John Garamendi’s (D-CA) amendment to cut $12.6 billion for the war accounts due to the “steady drawdown” of troops after the surge troops are withdraw in 2012 was rejected 137-278, July 19, 2012.
Walter Jones’s (R-NC) amendment to reduce funding for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund by $412,287,000 was agreed to by voice vote, July 18, 2012.
Ted Poe’s (R-TX) amendments to eliminate the entire $1.3 billion in aid to Pakistan under the coalition support fund program was withdrawn, but a second amendment to cut the account by $650 million was agreed to by voice vote, July 18, 2012.
Steve Cohen’s (D-TN) amendment to reduce the Afghanistan Infrastructure fund by $175 million was adopted 228-191, July 18, 2012.
David Cicilline’s (D-RI) amendment to strike the $375 million in funding for the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund was rejected 149-270, July 18, 2012.
In addition to these amendments, on Wednesday, July 18th, fifteen members of Congress spoke on the costs of the continuing war in Afghanistan and the need to bring the troops home now. The bipartisan effort, led by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC), included statements by four Republicans and 11 Democrats: Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY), Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA). See excerpts on YouTube.
-Kathy Crandall Robinson, Public Policy Director